Peer Review by ALangford (United Kingdom)

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Revelation

By: George Tom



 

 I crouch on the bitterly cold surface and though the suit’s climate controlled to the last degree, I want to shiver.  My visor helps me see through the incessant blizzard and I can see the team trudging on to witness what has brought me to do this and risk everything. A journey to witness the birthplace of the cosmos.
How can you suppress the desire to kneel down and touch the roots that sprung everything?  To know that every inch of everything was born from a single point on this planet is humbling, to say the least. It is here and not one of us will turn our backs on it until we drink its radiance. Some primitive instinct keeps us going.

I pick myself up and crank up the temperature, but I can still feel my frosted soul. Not a person will admit that unrest has settled in them, but it’s evident in the way the team moves on without word or gesture.  In the absence of a map for this planet, we had to rely on intuition as the team leader calls it, though I know there’s hardly any intuition about the direction we’re moving in.  The storm intensifies and it gets harder with the wind in your face. Even your gear has its limit. Every step feels like lifting lead and the fluctuating gravity fields only makes the going harder. The constant low rumble above us stops and then there is a ghastly silence. A ragged beam drops from the sky and right onto one of us. He drops cold. We move on because there’s no time for goodbyes. I look behind and see through his visor. Even through the hazy weather, I can see those frozen eyes trying to tell me something, but the team leader gives me a sharp look. I keep moving forward.

 The terrain keeps getting harder to cover and we would have dropped down from exhaustion a long time ago were it not for the immunity the gear gives us. But we are still not immune to pain that wrecks our fatigued souls. The mountains tremble and then a low rumble transforms to a loud roar as several tonnes of ice come crashing down towards us. The leader gives out the command to disperse and I scramble to get out of the way. Some just stand there frozen in defiance looking foolishly at the charging avalanche. Though the suit minimizes exposure and reveals only the eyes, I can swear I saw a weak smile on their faces as they met their doom. We loose more men to the calamity than expected. Our pace increases and the leader doesn’t do much anymore except occasionally turn around assert his remaining authority.

 The blizzard calms, the flakes fall gently onto us and the fields finally stop fluctuating. We move faster and our spirit is renewed. We find a spot to lie down and rest. Some never rise from this position again. We resume our march, the snow stops, the ice thaws, and the temperature steadily rises above freezing until the mercury rests at a comfortable level. Most of us shut down the protective climate control and we can finally breathe in the planet’s air without our lungs stinging from the unforgiving cold.

Rolling plains stretch ahead of us and for once, we can see for miles ahead of us. Our speed quickens and we break into a jog. Then without warning, the leader’s suit blows and he crumples to the ground. We all stop and crowd around him. He frantically tries to cover the jagged tear with his hands, but it’s useless. Without a shepherd to lead us, some seize the opportunity and run away into the wilderness. I, among few others, remain loyal to the cause and move forward.
We were only in the eye of the wretched storm. The field intensity and heat increase soon after that and we quickly restart our suits to counter them. The land grows barren and the planet’s relentless star beats down on us. The parched and cracked ground makes us beg for the cursed Blizzard. Then from the dry scrub around us, giant blue flames erupt and slowly consume the thorny forests.  The forest fire gives the atmosphere an eerie red tinge and hot, toxic fumes envelope us. Some of our suits strain under the pressure and its circuitry fuses.  It doesn’t take long for the heat to get to them after that. Afraid of a similar fate, the remaining few of us move slowly, afraid that any exertion could be our last. Then the very ground trembles and splits to swallow us into its deep chasms. I cannot resist the urge to run and I pay heed to my instinct. I run as fast as my suit will take me. I just barely manage an escape.

The landscape changes again and the entire scene in bathed in blood red. I can sense that it is near and I look around for any comrades. I am alone. A stream of red cuts its way through the earth and passes ahead of me. The stream then widens to become a surging river. I bend down and dip my hands into the fluid. My pain and fatigue wash away in this river of blood. Tired of this mission, I dive into the river head first. Surprisingly, my gear still holds against this alien viscosity as I sink lower into the depths of the river. I become limp as all my troubles leech through my suit and into the waters. Then my legs are at the receiving end of something hard as my knees bend and adjust to the landing on the river bed.

 Then I see it in all its glory, the Alpha, where it all began, at the bottom of the river that washed away my suffering and eased my pains. I slowly kneel down on the soft river bed and bow my head in final submission, drifting away to a foreign land. This is the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end. And though my suit’s conditioned to the last degree, I shiver at last.

 
  
 
 


Message to Readers

Is there enough context to evaluate its meaning?


Peer Review

The descriptive writing is particularly strong, although I found the subject matter and voice engaging too. The writer really nails description, incorporating plenty of colour and sound and sensation - it's a sensory paradise. They seem almost reluctant when they have to move on to pure plot and narrative, which I can understand because the imagery and descriptive language is definitely the highlight of each section. I also think it forms a really good structural motif, in a way - when each paragraph lapses into a description of setting or sound, it's always different and really gives the reader the impression of a journey, a narrative constantly in flux. This is really valuable to the piece and helps to embellish the plot really well.


I don't think it was a piece with a point to make, necessarily, or not about any of the factors above (although maybe I'm just blind) but it was a quite interesting insight into human nature (though it occurs to me that the narrator may not be human!). The nature of the brutal journey, the weariness, the indifference to death, the pursuit of an intangible and receding goal and the depiction of pain and hopelessness were all really interesting. Maybe this could be a more overt element, with more overt commentary on human nature, or maybe you could make it more clearly a reflection of human nature within a certain context to give it a more obvious message.


I was a tad confused at points but I think this was because the writer was quite reluctant to give information in general. This isn't a criticism - I found it really engaging that they didn't ever give too much away. However, this could potentially do with giving the reader a bit more to bite into - for instance, could we know more about what the narrator is actually pursuing? Could we get more of a picture of the team? Why are they together? What do they have in common? Additionally, what's the background of the narrator and how did they come to this place? I understand that it can feel clunky to try to throw all of this in, especially within a word limit, but it could help the reader to get more of a grip on it if you were to include a little bit more in terms of context and background.


Your writing is beautiful, the piece engaged me throughout, you clearly have an excellent imagination, you really know how to make a piece appeal to the reader and you're generally very good with controlling the amount of information we have access to so we're hooked and constantly wanting more. This is a really impressive piece and I really enjoyed reading it - good luck for the competition!


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